I’ve been working for quite a while now to piece together an imageblog WordPress theme that I like, and it hasn’t been easy. A while back, I lucked my way across a theme built entirely in simplified HTML 5, called H5. H5 is an extremely minimalistic theme, partly because the author’s goal was to keep it clean. Nothing extra, nothing frivolous. That’s exactly the way I like things, and H5 provided a wonderful platform for the themes I’ve used up until now on both EndofWeb and Loupe. Now Loupe has a new face — Left5.
H5 was a great starting point, but it really wasn’t much more than that. In fact, by the time I was finished with it, it didn’t resemble the original theme in any way — except that it still kept to the confines of the generic-standard WordPress layout. I was quite happy with the designs I came up with using nothing but clean CSS and HTML 5′s core tags of <header>, <section>, <article>, <aside> and <nav> — but I still wanted something different. Namely, I wanted to get out from under the WordPress layout that just seems to stick, and move toward an even more minimalistic design that better lent toward large images.
That meant that what I had to do was to find a way to keep the exceptionally clean code that HTML 5 allows for, and manage to outfit a WordPress-driven site to look more like Core CMS than WordPress. As much as I’d love to say that it’s awful — if for no other reason than its rampant popularity — WordPress is a very good CMS. It’s surprisingly sturdy, portable, extendable, configurable, and above all; elastic.
And by elastic, I mean that I can install it, build a blog, post daily for three years, and still have it perfectly organized, catalogued, and presentable. Content management systems like Core CMS or even Cargo Collective are beautiful, but they’re meant to be portfolios, not blogs — so they’re severely limited on the amount of content that they can effectively display.
Places like Tumblr, Posterous, and Blogger all have severe drawbacks of their own, even for something as seemingly simple as an imageblog — which doesn’t stop the hundreds of fantastic imageblogs on their servers from doing what they do — but I still flat out despise all three of them.
High-profile sites like Ffffound! and Dropular are a different beast all together, not to mention that they use some heavier code to operate — which I wanted to avoid using. I wanted to keep my sites clean, almost austere in their code, to keep them as nimble as possible. As much as we all love the smooth workings of jQuery, java and flash, plain HTML is preferable when you’ve got a load of images clogging your already humiliatingly slow internet connection.
Left5 is special in that it’s a left-anchored design with absolutely no limit to the size of images displayed. The idea of a left-aligned static wall isn’t overly special, but having it in a WordPress theme, fully coded in clean, minimal, validated HTML 5 — that’s something else. I’m very happy with it, even if people using archaic CRT’s might get annoyed at the brazenly huge images it allows for. The screenshot above is a post on Loupe, and the image shown is 1029 pixels wide. The theme is gorgeous on average to large screen sizes with reasonably modern resolutions.
I haven’t yet packaged a generic version of the theme, but I will soon and get it posted on a demo page. I’ll note here when that happens :)